A vacation to Anchorage sounds great. The largest city in Alaska with snow, glaciers, Northern Lights…
A vacation to Anchorage Caravan Park in Kalbarri sounds, umm …ok too. It’s April 2021 and we still cannot travel overseas, so Kalbarri it is.
Day 1 – 8 hours in the car
Kalbarri is a tourist town in mid-west Western Australia 600km north of Perth, renowned for its stunning scenery, fishing and general holiday activities. Its a long road trip of around 8 hours after stopping for lunch and stretching breaks. I have been to Kalbarri many times, but my last trip was some 25 years ago. This trip was a first for Jane, and our travelling buddies Alex, Mary Ann and 5yo Marcus.
About 70km before reaching Kalbarri, we passed Hutt Lagoon. This is a large lake famous for its pink colour. We made a quick stop to check it out. Alex and Mary Ann wanted to see it also, so we planned to come back the next day (with the drone).
We stayed at Anchorage caravan park, right in the middle of town. Alex and Mary Ann had their caravan, while Jane and I roughed it in a tent. The caravan park was jam packed. It was starkly contrasting from the grassy spaciousness of Denmark’s Big 4 park we stayed in February. Nevertheless, that’s camping for you (don’t get me started).
Alex and Mary Ann arrived shortly after us and we went about setting up our respective camps.
We had a BBQ dinner and a few drinks and retired early to bed after a tiring day of driving.
Day 2 – Coastal
After a lazy rise and slow breakfast of coffee, bacon and eggs we took off in Alex’s jeep to explore Kalbarri’s coastal landforms.
Firstly we travelled the 70km back down the road to the pinkish Hutt Lagoon. We tried to find a road into the lagoon as we both recalled seeing photos where cars were on a road crossing the lake. We couldn’t find such a road so we went to the lookout near Port Gregory with all the other tourists. The lake wasn’t all pink, but there was enough pink salty water to get some interesting shots wit the camera and drone.
The next stop was the Natural Bridge and Island Rock lookouts. Something that has changed in the past 25 years since I last visited was the signage, roads and tracks improvements. The lookouts were easy to find and nice to walk along the paved trails.
The sandstone cliffs were spectacular.
Net stop was Pot Alley. A coastal gorge with a quaint little beach. Alex got his drone out here.
Marcus and the girls were getting hungry so we went back into town to grab a pizza or two at Angie’s. The pizzas were great, but the highlight for Alex were the vanilla slices. Marcus got his vanilla milkshake as promised too.
We had a short rest until our cruise up the Murchison River on Kalbarri Wilderness Cruises. This was a two hour cruise on a small flat bottom boat up the river. The skipper, Grant was very entertaining and has all sorts of information on the river and the region. We saw lots of kangaroos and birdlife, including a white eagle. Grant didn’t tell us what type of an eagle, but I believe it was a White-bellied Sea Eagle. The funniest part of trip was Castle Rock. The boat made a stop on the sandy beach and Grant pointed out a rock formation high on the banks of the river. He said people like to climb it. As he opened the gangplank all the kids immediately run up the hill to climb the rock… including Marcus. This took Mary Ann by surprise and she and Alex raced after him. Jane and I just looked on thankful we didn’t have kids. Before you knew it they were all up on top of the rock. Mary Ann came back red-faced from the strenuous workout. The boat returned to the town in time for a spectacular sunset. We all enjoyed the cruise.
Back at camp we had a BBQ dinner and drinks before bed.
Day 3 – Inland
Bacon and eggs again at “casa Pecoraro” for breakfast before heading out to explore the rugged inland features of the Kalbarri National Park. Entering the park there is a checkpoint where you must part with $15 per car for the national park fee.
First stop was the Z bend. This is a lookout over a step gorge snaking around in the shape of a giant Z. The round trip for the lookout is 1.2 km. For the more adventurous there is a trail down to the river at 2.6 km with a steeper grade. Being a hot day and having a 5yo meant we just enjoyed the lookout (phew!).
Next stop was the newly constructed Skywalk. This structure takes you out over the edge of the cliffs. Its not as scary as it looks, however. Alex and I got our drones out here. There is a nice little café here. so I had to get an ice coffee.
The next stop is Nature’s Window, which is perhaps one of the most photographed landscapes in Western Australia. Everyone was eager to see it. It’s only a 800m round trip from the carpark, but on a hot day with “friendly” flies it was a tough journey.
I think all agreed Nature’s Window was the highlight of the trip. We were lucky with the weather, albeit quite hot and we all arrived back at the car park tired and sweaty.
Back at camp we had a refreshing shower and got ready for dinner at Dirt, Dust N Diesels restaurant. Mary Ann had done her research and recommended this place. It promised a lot with a unique Australian menu including Kangaroo, Emu, Crocodile, Buffalo and Camel. Sadly, it didn’t deliver. I was looking forward to trying something different, but they only Australian food they had available that night was the Kangaroo, which I have had many times before. Jane and settled for Fish and Chips (boring) and (tasteless) Garlic Prawns. Alex had a Parmi – which he said was dry. Mary Ann ordered a Beef and Guinness Pie which was too salty. Marcus seemed to be the only winner with his kids size Spaghetti Bolognaise.
We left quite early and disappointed. Alex wanted to try his hand at fishing. He was inspired by our camping neighbours “4 Macs Makin Tracks“. This young family of four from Gold Coast have been on the road since November travelling around Australia. Joel walked into camp Thursday night with a huge Mulloway he caught in the river just near the caravan park. Alex did catch a fish, but it wasn’t a Mulloway. The rest of us enjoyed the balmy night with some wine and cheese on the jetty.
Day 4 – Chased out
During dinner the previous night Jane received a call from the caravan park. They were evacuating tourists from the town because of the incoming cyclone “Seroja“. We were asked to leave before 10am on Saturday. This was fine by us because we were planning to leave Saturday anyway. Alex and Mary Ann however wanted to stay until Sunday. Many people had already left the caravan park on Friday.
We were up early and packed quickly and we were on the road my 7.30. The traffic wasn’t too bad and we made it home at 2.15pm. It was a very nice few days in Kalbarri with good friends. The stunning scenery of Kalbarri is well worth the 600km drive. You probably need a full week there to get the most from it.
In the subsequent days Cyclone Seroja wreaked havoc in Kalbarri with 70% of houses being damaged in some way. Luckily there appears to be no loss of life reported to date. Cyclones this far south in WA are very rare and towns in this region like Kalbarri are not equipped for such events.